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Here's why gas prices in the U.S. are so low

Published: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 8:45 AM
Updated: Sunday, December 21, 2014 @ 8:45 AM

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Consider it an early Christmas present. This week, gas prices are their lowest since 2009.

The average gas price in the U.S. dipped down to $2.43 and there are stations in 24 states selling gas for under $2 per gallon. 

This drop in price is thanks to an oil boom. The high supply has pushed the cost of oil down to about $60 a barrel. Back in June, the price was $115 a barrel. 

The boom is a response to the high oil prices of 2010; the U.S. stepping up its crude oil production to combat those prices. By last summer, the U.S. became the largest source of crude in the world. 

As this was happening demand for oil began tapering off in European and Asian countries as economies weakened and fuel efficiency increased.

Pretty soon, supply started to surpass demand, and in September, prices began to fall more sharply.

Making things more severe, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which produces a third of the world's oil supply, decided not to cut back on production. That move sent gas prices down even further. (Video via OPEC)

And analysts say the decline has not bottomed out yet. Prices are expected to continue to drop through New Years. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and music from Kevin MacLeod / CC BY 3.0.

5-foot tapeworm wiggles out of California man after eating sushi

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 8:39 PM

Man Infected with 5-Foot Tapeworm After Eating Sushi

sushi-loving California man with a habit of consuming raw salmon recently pulled out a 5-foot tapeworm from his own body.

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According to Dr. Kenny Bahn, who treated the man in August and revealed the case on a Jan. 8 episode of the medical podcast “This Won’t Hurt a Bit,” his patient thought he was dying.

"He asked me for worm treatment and I was like, 'Oh, not an everyday request,'" Bahn said on the podcast, skeptical about the patient’s self-diagnosis.
It started with abdominal cramps and escalated to bloody diarrhea. Then, the man told Bahn, when he went to the bathroom, “I looked down and it looked like there was a piece of intestine hanging out of me.”

Though the visual is horrifying, the man was relieved to find it wasn’t a part of his own intestines.

Instead, it was a 5-and-a-half foot tapeworm “wiggling” out of his body, likely a result of the man’s daily consumption of raw salmon, Bahn said.

In January 2017, experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that eating raw or undercooked fish heightens the risk of developing an infection from parasites, including Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, or the Japanese broad tapeworm. And wild salmon caught in Alaska had also been infected.

Doctors warned that eating raw salmon in the United States, particularly along the Pacific Coast, may increase risk of those Japanese tapeworm parasites.

According to the CDC, the Japanese tapeworm and related species can grow up to 30 feet long.

Not everyone infected with the tapeworm will have symptoms, but some common signs and symptoms of a Diphyllobothrium infection can include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting and weight loss.

In some cases, complications can lead to intestinal obstruction and gall bladder disease, according to the CDC.

Once diagnosed, a health care provider prescribes an effective medication, typically a pill, to kill the parasite.

Government shutdown: What will close; will you get your Social Security check; what will happen to SNAP, WIC

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:35 PM

What You Need to Know: Government Shutdown

Update: While the House passed legislation on Thursday to fund government  services, the Senate on Friday failed to vote on a continuing resolution that would keep the government up and running. With no bill to fund the government, non-essential services have been shutdown. 

Below is the original story that explains what will happen now that the government has been shut down.

The fight over a border wall, the fate of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, and the wrangling over the funding of an insurance program for children could force a U.S. government shutdown after midnight on Friday if Congress does not pass legislation that would keep the government running.

While negotiations on a temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, are ongoing, House Republican leaders said late Wednesday that  they lacked the votes to prevent a shutdown, but that they are pressing members to back Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-Wisconsin), on the  temporary spending bill.

“I think it passes,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker, (R-North Carolina), told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s overwhelming, but I think it passes.”

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What would happen if no bill is passed and the government “shuts down?” Here’s what to expect:

First, a government shutdown doesn’t mean the government completely shuts down. Employees and services deemed “essential” would remain in place. About half of the federal employee workforce, however, could be furloughed – sent home without pay.

Government agencies would shut down because of the lack of a bill that funds services those agencies provide. What Congress will be considering Thursday night and Friday is a continuing resolution, a way to temporarily fund the government.

What is a continuing resolution?
A continuing resolution, or “CR,” is legislation that funds government operations at the current spending level. In normal years, a bill that funds government operations is signed by Oct. 1, which is the end of the fiscal year. That didn’t happen this year.

CRs can fund the government for days, weeks or months. The CR that could be considered Thursday would fund the government through Feb. 16.

Here is a list of services and how they would be affected if a CR is not passed by Friday night:
Air travel
Air travel would not be affected as federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and Transportation Security Administration screeners would remain in place.
Federal court
For about two weeks, federal courts would continue operating normally. After that time, the judiciary would have to furlough employees not considered essential.
Food safety
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls. Most routine safety inspections would be halted.
Health
Patients in the National Institutes of Health would continue to be treated. New patients would not be accepted until a funding bill is in place.
International travel 
You could still get a passport and visa applications would still be processed by the State Department. Fees collected when someone applies for a visa or a passport fund those services.
Loans 
The Federal Housing Administration, the agency that guarantees about 30 percent of all American home mortgages, wouldn't be able to underwrite or approve any new loans during a shutdown, causing a delay for those using one of those loans to purchase a home. 
The mail
You would still get mail, as the U.S. Postal Service is not funded by taxpayer dollars for everyday operations.
Military
Active-duty military personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed.
National parks
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums. Visitors in overnight campgrounds in national parks would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park.
School lunches, SNAP and WIC
School breakfasts and lunches funded by the federal government would not be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, could be affected. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called the Food Stamp Program, would continue to be funded and SNAP benefits would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Science
The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather.
Social Security
Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would be paid, but new applications for those payments could be delayed. 
Veterans services
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs would continue.

Sources: The Associated Press; Politicothe Congressional Research Service

  

Congress slides into a government shutdown, as Democrats derail temporary budget in Senate

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:16 PM

In a high stakes game of legislative chicken, the U.S. Senate on Friday night blocked a House-passed bill to fund operations of the federal government for the next four weeks, as most Democrats joined with a handful of Republicans to filibuster the spending measure, demanding faster action on immigration matters, driving the Congress toward the first federal government shutdown since 2013.

The vote was 50 to 49 – 60 votes were needed.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump had met with Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer at the White House – but while they seemed to make some progress, there was no final deal.

And Mr. Trump made clear who was to blame.

A handful of members from both parties broke with their leaders on the Senate vote, which would have shut off debate on the four week spending measure approved on Thursday by the House.

Mainly because of the impasse over DACA and immigration, several Republicans refused to join with the President, as they voted against the plan.

“I believe no one wants the government to shut down,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “I also believe that we are inside the ten yard line on finding solutions on all issues.”

Other Republican “no” votes included Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Democrats voting to end debate included five from states which were won by President Trump: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9DjtAfhZFY&w=640&h=390]

For many Democrats, the biggest thing missing from a temporary budget plan was something concrete on the DACA program, to deal with close to 700,000 illegal immigrant “Dreamers” now in the United States.

In the various Congressional office buildings, immigration activists and many Dreamers joined in demonstrations for their cause.

But Republicans argued that backers of DACA relief were not interested in doing enough to stop people from coming illegally in the future.

“We want to be able to resolve this, but it has to be resolved with border security attached to it,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).

“There’s a deal here that could be struck very quickly,” argued Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

But signs of a late agreement did not seem to be there for Senators as the clock ticked toward midnight, a reminder that many hours had been spent in recent months on the issue, so far – to no avail.

It wasn’t immediately clear how Congressional leaders would try to broker a deal.

President Trump stayed at the White House Friday night instead of flying as scheduled to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida. It’s not clear if he will go there on Saturday for a party to mark his first year in office.

 

Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose, family says 

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 7:15 PM

Tom Petty Death Caused By Accidental Drug Overdose

Tom Petty died from an accidental drug overdose after taking a variety of medications, the family for the legendary rock star said Friday. 

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Petty, who suffered emphysema, knee problems and more recently a fractured hip, was prescribed various pain medications including Fentanyl patches, his family said. 

“On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication,” his family wrote on Facebook

The family called Petty’s Oct. 2 death an unfortunate accident. 

“As a family we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”

DOVER, DE - JUNE 22: Tom Petty performs onstage at the Firefly Music Festival at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway on June 22, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Firefly Music Festival)(Theo Wargo)